Friday, July 3, 2009

Summer Cruise_Day 11

In yesterday’s post, like many previous posts, I spent time to write a few thoughts about how proud I am of the men and women who serve onboard GONZALEZ. I have been blessed in my Navy career to have served on numerous Battle Excellence award winning ships, was OPS onboard LAKE ERIE during her remarkable Blue-Gold days, and was XO of PORT ROYAL when she won the Spokane Trophy for 2002 as the best ship in the entire Pacific Fleet. And for all of that, I stand by my words that the GONZALEZ crew is the best crew in the Navy. They are the most resilient group of men and women I have ever served with and they have never let me down. In fact, during a recent interview for my next assignment I was asked to describe my ship and my crew. My answer to the Admiral was simple, “I don’t think we are the best at any one thing, but we are damn good at everything.” And that’s the truth. So with that in mind, I thought I would share a few edited words from my most recent Captain’s Call before we arrived at the Naval Base in Mayport to offer a small glimpse into the way we do business onboard…

“Very late last evening we had an engineering casualty which kept many of us busy until we corrected the problem. As I looked around at some tired faces in Engineering Department, I asked myself, and the XO who was also up with me well after midnight, if it were worth running our predawn General Quarters drill early this morning concurrent with our attack on the BLUE forces. If training has no value, then what’s the purpose? Everything we do must have purpose, or what’s the point? And as I looked at my Engineering Department Leading Chief Petty Officer who had been standing port and starboard watch as an Engineering Officer of the Watch, and as I looked at my Chief Engineer who had stood the previous day’s 0200-0700 Tactical Action Officer watch, supervised our refueling during the 0700-1200 watch, was up for a main space fire drill on the 1200-1700 and had the 2200-0200 watch with another General Quarters drill on the 0200-0700 watch forthcoming, I thought hard about training value. And those are just two personal examples, I have pushed us all hard this underway.

So, yes I decided to go ahead with the drill.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a ship of war, and while what we just completed was an exercise, our warship needs to be ready for tasking at all times, 24/7, 365 days a year. I have spent the last 17 months being up front with you and telling you what I thought we are good at and what we needed to work on. And there are things we need to work on…

So why, would a CO who is about to turn over command, come out and push the crew harder. Why would I come out and talk about anything other than all the good things we are doing….because we need it…because all of us need to have the same long term view. We owe it to ourselves, we owe it to our ship, our Navy, and we owe it to our nation and people like Dolia Gonzalez, the mother of Freddy Gonzalez who if anything should inspire us all. She turns 80 years old in less than two months and still works two jobs. She, better than all of us, understands the long view. She will be here to visit us in just 6 weeks and we had better be up to her inspection standards.

This ship has come a phenomenally long way. It started with a remarkably successful INSURV inspection and Engineering Operational Certification prior to deployment, long before I got here. It continued with a remarkably successful deployment and post deployment period during my time in command, and ladies and gentlemen we are going to cap this summer by crushing our next engineering certification in just a few weeks, but it is going to take a team effort. And that you owe to your new CO. That is what the long term view is all about. Many of us will not be here when the ship deploys next year, but shame on us if every one of us who is here right now is not fully involved in doing everything we can to make our ship, our home as combat ready as possible.

We are going to jump start that this afternoon the way we always do before pulling into port, by taking care of the ship with a fresh water wash and then continue that all day tomorrow with all hands topside preservation.

We are then going to enjoy some very well deserved time off over the holiday weekend and then we are going to get right back to it for another week at sea before we return. Our engineering certification is the week after we return. Following that, we are going to embark some more midshipmen, and then we are going to get the ship ready for change of command. Following that, our attention will focus on pre-deployment preparations and continued operational prowess - the long view.

That’s why I ran the drill, and we can all expect more.”

After a long 24 hours before entering port and after taking care of our ship, the crew of GONZALEZ is enjoying a very well deserved and well earned 4-days off. Have a great weekend! - CO

No comments: